Vaughn, White Sox' rookies continue to step up amid injuries

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Rookies continue to keep White Sox afloat amid injuries originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

In the series-deciding game against the Tigers on Sunday, the White Sox came up short on the heels of a not so quality start from Lucas Giolito, who allowed six earned runs on 10 hits. The South Siders battled back, though, thanks to a 3-for-5, four-RBI performance that included a three-run homer in the ninth from José Abreu, who appears to have shed the slump that saw him bat .182 in the month of June.

It wasn’t exactly a statement series for the White Sox, who dropped two out of three in Detroit, but for a quad of rookies who find themselves with the impossible task of gluing together a lineup riddled with injury, a statement was surely made.

If you looked at the production from Andrew Vaughn, Zack Collins, Gavin Sheets and Jake Burger over the past week, you might be surprised at the big league experience each player lacks. And then when you realize that two of those hitters have a grand total of nine MLB games between them, the surprise becomes somewhat of a credence in mystique.

Andrew Vaughn has improved with each and every at-bat this season, but over the past seven games, he’s gone fairly nuclear with five RBI and two home runs on a .417 batting average and a .708 SLG%. When asked about his progression against right-handers, in particular, he described a simple practice-makes-perfect mentality.

“It’s just working hard every day in the cage and fine-tuning my swing and my approach, and just going out there and battling and being ready every single pitch.”

Zack Collins will have to carry the load behind the plate over the next few days while Yasmani Grandal is day-to-day with calf tightness. As long as he keeps batting .300 like he’s done over his last seven (and .293 over the last 15), that shouldn’t be much of a problem. Over that span, he has one home run and seven RBI. Only José Abreu and Gavin Sheets have more.

With eight RBI through his first six major league games is Gavin Sheets. He opened his MLB career with two hits, a double and two RBI on June 19 against the Twins, and he’s been raking ever since. He has two home runs, two double and is batting .318 while slugging .682 through 22 at-bats. That simply speaks for itself.

And then there’s Jake Burger. He initially charmed with a heartfelt comeback story for the ages, but after batting .364 through his first 11 major league at-bats, his swing is giving that lovable demeanor a run for its money.

Of course, seven games is a mere sliver of a season, and even the worst players in the league get hot throughout the year. But all four rookies in the lineup – two of them in the first at-bats of their careers – producing like this when a battered team struggling on offense needed it most is an epic thing to witness.

“Well, I think that’s the biggest point to make,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said after Friday’s 8-2 win over the Tigers. “It’s not just they’re getting hits, but look at the timeliness of it.”

You can call it beginner’s luck, and you might be right. But you can also call it a heck of a lot of fun to watch. And you’d certainly be right about that, too.

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